The Sheikh and the Runaway Princess(Desert Rogues, Book 4)(20) by Susan Mallery
“Lean forward. I’ll do your back.”
“But that is not the part that most interests me.”
“I’ll bet, but it’s the part I’m going to do first.”
“Ah. Anticipation. How well you play the game.”
This wasn’t a game to her and she wasn’t playing. Nor could she prevent herself from blushing.
She dipped her cloth into the warm water, then rubbed on soap. Kardal obliged her by leaning forward and she ran the cloth up and down his back.
“If you joined me, you would find the job easier,” he told her.
She had a sudden image of herself as naked as him, stepping into the water. A shiver rippled through her. Something warm and sort of melty filled her chest and made her squirm.
“If this is your best material, I’m not impressed,” she said, trying to sound calm.
Kardal surprised her by laughing. When she finished with his back, he leaned against the tub and held out his left arm. “You may not be a well-trained slave, but you do entertain me.”
“Oh, joy. Because I live to serve.” She ran the washcloth along the length of his strong arm. “While we’re chitchatting about my place in your world, let’s talk about my clothes. Can’t I wear a dress, or even jeans? Where on earth did you find this costume?”
He turned his head so that their eyes met. They were too close, she thought as she leaned away.
“I find your appearance delightful,” he said.
“I think it’s awful. Aside from the fact that I’m cold half the time, I feel like an idiot.”
“But it pleases me.”
She wanted to point out that didn’t matter, however she stopped herself in time. “Kardal, be reasonable.”
He lowered his gaze to her half-exposed br**sts. “I will decide after my bath. If you please me here, I may please you later.”
Another shiver moved through her. Sabrina had a bad feeling they weren’t talking about her harem costume anymore. She knew what he thought about her. That wasn’t difficult to figure out because she read what they wrote about her in those magazines and newspapers. Half-truths, almost-facts and outright lies. The press made her sound as if she attended a party every other night and spent her days in the arms of various men. They judged her by her mother’s standard. It wasn’t fair.
“Sabrina, your expression grows most fierce. What are you thinking?”
She shook her head. No way she would make herself vulnerable to a man vying for “slave owner of the month” honors. She moved to the other side of the tub and reached for his right arm. Her thumb brushed against a scar.
“How did you get this?” she asked, hoping to distract him.
“A knife fight. I believe I was ten or eleven. I went to the Bahanian marketplace by myself. A mistake.”
She frowned. “Earlier you said you were out in the desert by yourself. Did you spend all your time looking for trouble?”
“Yes. And I frequently found it.”
Humor darkened his eyes. Humor and something else. Something almost angry.
“I would have thought you’d enjoy growing up here.”
“Much of the time I did. But there were occasions when I chafed at the rules. My grandfather was loving, but also stern.”
“How did he feel about the slavery issue?” she muttered.
“He would not have approved.”
“Really?” She dropped the washcloth. “I don’t suppose he’s still around.”
“No. He passed away five years ago.”
Sabrina touched his damp arm. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful.”
“I understand. There’s no need to apologize. I often wish he was still with us. Until his death, I was merely the heir to the city. I had more freedom. Now I have a greater responsibility.”
She knelt on the floor. “What’s the governmental structure here? Is there a parliament of some kind?”
“A tribal council that advises me. However, they do not have power unless I grant it to them. The city is a complete monarchy.”
“Just my luck.”
“You could always appeal to my mother. She has much influence with me.”
Sabrina gestured to herself, then to him in the tub. “This might not be the time. She would get the wrong idea.”
“Actually she would understand exactly what I was after.”
His voice had turned low and seductive. Sabrina swallowed. “Yes, well, perhaps later when I’m more formally dressed.”
He took her hand and placed it on his chest. “I would prefer you not to be dressed at all. I want to see my prize.”
She felt like a bird trapped in the compelling gaze of a cobra. As much as she wanted to shriek and run away, she couldn’t. Her fingers curled into the hair on his chest. Warm water lapped against her wrist and his heartbeat pulsed against her palm.
Was it her imagination or was he getting closer? Was Kardal leaning toward her, or her toward him? The shivers turned to honest-to-goodness trembling and she knew that if she’d been standing, her legs would have given way.
Fire filled Kardal’s eyes. She felt the heat down to her bones. It melted her resistance. His gaze settled on her mouth and she knew he was going to kiss her. What would it be like to be kissed by a man such as him? He would expect her to understand the ways between a man and a woman. He would expect her to be an expert, when in fact most sixteen-year-old girls knew far more than her. She’d never really been kissed—not the way she’d read about in books.
Copyright © 2015 by Read Best Books Free Online